NEW ORLEANS (CN) — Hurricane Delta rapidly upgraded to a Category 4 storm Tuesday with 145 mph winds ahead of an anticipated landfall overnight near the northeastern tip of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, before it is expected to take aim at the U.S. Gulf Coast.
“We’re being given a rare gift here” of forewarning to prepare for Delta, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said during a press conference Tuesday afternoon.
Although Delta’s “cone of uncertainty,” as some hurricane trackers call a storm’s expected path, began to track slightly west toward Texas on Tuesday afternoon, weather experts as well as public officials urged Louisiana residents to assume the storm is deadly and headed their way.
Declaring a state of emergency for Louisiana, Edwards said it is too early to know exactly where the hurricane will go but it is certain at least some portion of the Bayou State will be affected.
“Since yesterday – and this should be lost on no one – Hurricane Delta has significantly intensified,” the governor said.
Edwards said Delta will remain a major hurricane when it reaches the northern Gulf Coast as early as Friday morning.
“The National Weather Services is very confident right now, three and a half days before landfall, that a hurricane is going to strike Louisiana this week,” he said.
He urged Louisiana residents to prepare accordingly for “all of the damaging winds, the damaging surge, and the damaging rain.”
Benjamin Shaw, meteorologist in charge of the National Weather Service office in New Orleans, also spoke during the governor’s press conference Tuesday and urged residents anywhere inside the hurricane cone to prepare for life-threatening impacts. Shaw reiterated that Delta is an intense hurricane.
“I don’t think we need to sow much worry about what category it is,” Shaw said. “It is going to be a major storm.”
Delta is currently about 225 miles east-southeast of Cozumel, Mexico, and moving at about 17 mph to the west-northwest.
Edwards said he intends to ask President Donald Trump by Wednesday to commit to sending hurricane aid to his state. The governor also said more than 6,700 evacuees from Hurricane Laura are still sheltering in hotels, including 10 hotels in New Orleans, one in Baton Rouge and one in Lafayette.
Hurricane Laura made landfall along the Texas-Louisiana border on Aug. 27 as a Category 4 storm, flattening buildings, flooding roads with storm surge and uprooting trees.
Edwards said no evacuation order is currently in place for Louisiana residents inside levee systems. He said it is his hope to keep evacuees from Laura in their current locations, rather than have them move again.
The Greek alphabet is being used to name Atlantic tropical storms this year now that the regular list of 21 names has run out.